Tips for Managing Your...
- Never borrow more than you need. Loans are not free, and you will pay back more than you borrowed!
- Understand what you are signing. If you have questions, please ask. The staff in the Financial Aid Office are here to help you.
- Monitor your debt. Your federal student loan history can be accessed at www.nslds.ed.gov.
- If you have Unsubsidized Federal Loans, consider making interest payments while you are in school.
- When you go into repayment, understand your options. Different loans have different repayment options.
- Always be sure your lender(s) have your current address. Not receiving a bill is not an excuse for missing payments.
- Some lenders offer reduced interest rates for automatic debit payments.
- Be diligent about making your payments on time. Besides late fees that can be applied, the negative effect on your credit rating can cost you in higher rates on other forms of credit.
- Start by making a list of your personal values. Understanding how finances fit into your values will help you keep yourself focused.
- Set goals that will help you to maintain your stated values. Set goals for different intervals – the next three months, the next year, and the next three years.
- Determine your income. Look only at the income you receive after deductions.
- Determine your expenses, ie. Rent, loans, payments, food, clothing, entertainment, etc. Some are fixed, and other will vary from month to month. Keeping receipts is a good way to see how much you really spend. You might be surprised!
- Create a spending plan in which your expenses MUST be less than or equal to your income.
- Start an emergency savings. In order to stay on track think of it as paying yourself. A good goal is to have three to six months earnings in savings.
- Live within your means! This can be more challenging than you might think. Eating out, purchasing drinks from vending machines or convenience stores, and paying ATM access charges can add up over the course of a month, or a year. Balance your checkbook to avoid insufficient funds fees from your bank and penalties for bounced checks.
- Avoid signing up for multiple cards.
- Never co-sign for a friend's credit card.
- Contact your credit card company to reduce your credit limit if it is higher than necessary.
- Understand that low introductory rates are for a limited time and can be very high after that time is up.
- Avoid “free gift” or percentage off offers for credit cards. These may be predatory lenders or just store cards which typically have higher interest rates.
- “55% of college students acquire their first credit card during their first year in college, and 83% of college students have at least one credit card.” Senator Akaka, Credit Card Minimum Payment Warning Act, May 21, 2004.
- Think of your credit report as your financial GPA. A credit score is a numerical value assigned to you based on your credit history. Low credit scores can affect your ability to make purchases and the interest rate you pay on credit that you do obtain.
- Your credit report contains your personal identifying information; credit account details not limited to payment history; public record information such as bankruptcy, liens, and in some states overdue child support; and names of any companies that have requested your credit report.
- Your credit report DOES NOT contain information on your savings accounts, checking accounts, medical history, race, gender, religion, ethnicity, friends, political preferences, or criminal history.
- Negative credit information stays on your credit report for seven years in most cases. Some bankruptcies may be longer. Inquiries stay on for six months to two years. Positive information stays on indefinitely.
- When a potential creditor looks at your report, most consider how promptly you pay, how many credit cards you hold, the total amount of credit available to you, and how much you actually owe on your accounts.
- If you are denied credit you may obtain a copy of your credit report for free within 60 days of the denial. Otherwise, a charge applies for copies of credit reports issued within a year of the initial copy.
- Federal law gives U.S. citizens the right to receive a free credit report once a year. To obtain your visit www.annualcreditreport.com. You will be able to view and print one or all of your credit reports as reported by the three major credit reporting agencies:
It is important to establish and maintain good credit. The previously mentioned steps will help, but consider this:
- Apartment leases and utilities may provide some credit history.
- If your credit report contains inaccurate information, make corrections.
- Be wary of the potential for identity theft.
- Too much credit reduces your credit rating.
- Bounced checks are reflected on your credit rating.
- If you do miss payments, be sure to bring them up-to-date and keep them that way!
- Pay off past due accounts whenever possible.
- If there was some extenuating circumstance write a brief explanation and submit for inclusion on future credit reports.
- Avoid applying for credit until the credit bureau removes the bad ratings from your report.